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08 February 2021

How to save the world from long Covid

Business Day 08 February 2021 - ‘We need to spend whatever it takes on wartime-style mobilisation to make, distribute and inject vaccines’

Two main scenarios emerge. The first one is good: Covid-19 keeps circulating but loses its sting. Most people in rich countries, and the most vulnerable in developing countries, get vaccinated in 2021. The vaccines prevent disease caused by all strains. Covid-19 weakens: once it finds potential victims protected either by vaccination or past infection, it becomes at worst a nasty cold. But there’s another scenario, less likely yet so momentous that we need to think it through: the world gets “long Covid”. 

SA vaccine rollout dealt a blow

Business Day 07 February 2021 - Work is already under way at the University of Oxford to produce a second generation of the vaccine

The government is scrambling to reorient its Covid-19 vaccination plans after new evidence emerged on Sunday that AstraZeneca’s vaccine does not protect people against mild to moderate disease caused by the new variant detected in SA late last year. The government is hoping to press ahead and give the AstraZeneca shots to health-care workers while evaluating it in the field to check whether it protects them against severe disease, hospitalisation and death. The safety of the vaccine has already been established. 

Lessons from Israel’s Covid-19 vaccination programme

Business Day 07 February 2021 - The country has the highest proportion of its citizens vaccinated in the world but says the real-life effect of vaccines may take longer than was demonstrated in clinical trials

Researchers in the Middle Eastern country reported preliminary observations on Wednesday from a national immunisation programme that began on December 20. Improvement in the number of new cases and hospitalised patients occurred 21 days following the vaccination campaign, the scientists said, noting that the real-life effect of vaccines may take longer than was demonstrated in clinical trials. 

Netcare says strain of Covid-19 second wave was more severe

Business Day 05 February 2021 - Covid-19 continues to weigh on the group, which says it had more pandemic patients in the three months to end-December than in the prior seven

Netcare, SA’s third-largest private hospital operator by market value, says Covid-19 continues to weigh on its profits, with it seeing more pandemic-related patients in the three months to end-December than it did in the prior seven. In a trading update, Netcare said it had managed to improve its operational profit during its first quarter to end-December, but activity levels and occupancies have still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. 

Prior pneumonia case seems to suggest higher risk of death from Covid-19

Business Day 05 February 2021 - Pneumonia is more likely to be an indicator of underlying chronic disease — such as COPD or interstitial lung disease — that has gone undiagnosed

A prior episode of pneumonia was the second-greatest overall risk factor for death from Covid-19, according to a study of medical records from almost 17,000 patients. The top predictor of risk is age, with the risk increasing as people get older. By itself, a single pneumonia case probably doesn’t put someone at high risk, the researchers cautioned. 

Ranking places South Africa as the unhealthiest of the OECD countries

Medical Brief 03 February 2021 - A new study reveals the healthiest and unhealthiest countries to live in and South Africa has been ranked as the unhealthiest.

The research by Compare The Market ranks the healthiest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries around the world, and also reveals which ones need a little improvement…The research looks at various factors including life expectancy, prevalence of smoking, alcohol consumption, adult obesity and vaccination rates. An overall weighted score was then created and each country was ranked. 

Medical scheme resistance to ‘unfair’ vaccine funding model grows

Medical Brief 03 February 2021 - The Department of Health’s funding model for South Africa‘s vaccination roll-out is “inherently unfair, unethical and illegal”, Profmed CEO Craig Comrie told MedicalBrief in an interview.

Fedhealth‘s Principal Officer, Jeremy Yatt, has also spoken out against the plan, which he says, “contrary to what is being punted in the media, is by no means a done deal”. “Aside from Discovery, I don’t know of a single scheme that is buying into a proposal that is damaging to the interests of members and will weaken the schemes financially.” 

Vaccine registration site won’t crash, state assures healthcare workers

Business Day 03 February 2021 - So far only about 38,000 of SA’s estimated 1.25-million healthcare workers have registered on the site to receive the Covid-19 vaccination

The government’s electronic registration system for coronavirus vaccination will be able to handle the millions of people who are expected to enrol on its website, a senior official assured healthcare workers on Tuesday. Healthcare workers will receive an SMS once they have registered, confirming they have been enrolled. They will receive further SMSes communicating the details of their first scheduled appointment, their booster shot appointment, and certification once they have been fully immunised. 

Moderna has offered to supply 20-million coronavirus vaccines to SA, say activists

Business Day 01 February 2021 - The health department says it is bound by a non-disclosure agreement and cannot reveal details of talks

US biotech company Moderna has offered SA 20-million coronavirus vaccines, health activists claimed on Monday night. Heath department deputy director-general Anban Pillay said he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement with Moderna and was not able to reveal details of the government’s discussion with the company. Moderna’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine has proven 94% effective against older lineages of Sars-COV-2 and works against the new variants detected recently in SA and the UK. But it is relatively expensive compared to the other vaccines the government has secured to date.